The EU recently announced its approval of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, notably citing its satisfaction with the proposed remedies to ease concerns regarding how the deal would affect the cloud gaming market – namely the licensing of Activision Blizzard titles to cloud gaming competitors for the next ten years.
Meanwhile, the UK’s CMA took a different stance, blocking the deal precisely because it didn’t think Microsoft’s remedies went far enough.The CMA’s decision to block the deal came not due to how it would affect console, where the deal has faced the most significant opposition, or mobile, which Microsoft insists is the most important factor in the acquisition, but in cloud gaming, with the group claiming that Microsoft already has a 60-70% market share, with the deal only set to increase this.
In its response to the ruling, the UK’s CMA while claiming parity with the EU on the matter only re-stressed its stance, claiming that the deal would lead to Microsoft essentially being given free reign to set the terms and conditions for cloud gaming for the next decade, giving it a potentially insurmountable amount of influence on the market.
After the CMA’s seemingly double-sided agreement/disagreement, the EU commission this morning has defended its stance, stating that the UK’s concerns regarding the deal’s implication for the industry are overblown.
“I think it’s really important that we own this decision,” said the EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager. “We think this is a good remedy and we think it’s pro-competitive.”
The EU claims that the CMA had overstated Microsoft’s share of the market, notably by including subscribers to Microsoft’s Game Pass service who don’t use its cloud gaming features, reports the Financial Times.
The EU also dismissed concerns that a potential decision by Microsoft to make Activision Blizzard titles exclusive to Xbox would harm console competitors.
But what about mobile?
Acquiblizz, as we’ve come to call it, is one of the biggest stories to hit the games industry in its history, and in some ways it’s acted as something of an example of the wider world’s focus on other platforms while in terms of sheer revenue and number of players, it’s mobile that’s number one.. While Microsoft has repeatedly asserted that the core reasoning for the acquisition is the strength of Activision Blizzard’s mobile subsidiary, King, this has often been ignored by competitors and legislators alike.
Notably, Google has vocally opposed the deals, citing its concerns that Microsoft may bolster its own upcoming app store’s revenue by making King titles exclusively available to it. These concerns are, in essence, similar to Sony’s, but have often been overlooked by government bodies scrutinising the deal.
Whether the EU’s reiteration and explanation is enough to silence the UK CMA on the matter remains to be seen.
We listed Activision Blizzard as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.